Spiritual Emergence in the Muddy Waters of the Mental Health System

What was emerging now was different than anything I had experienced prior.

I had just gotten support from relationships I had built over the past year at the Quaker meeting-for-worship.

Maybe my situation at work had been getting whispered about among my friends. Maybe my spirit was exuding a sense of desperation. Either way, I’d felt safer under the spell of the service, the last bit of community support I would experience for years.

When the service was over I’d checked in. A year-long friend gave me a deep hug with just a little more boob than I was comfortable with.

“I guess I am learning that it’s not safe to talk about what’s going on at the Norton to anyone,” I told my slightly newer friend.

The Norton was the notorious Section 8 housing project where I worked setting up social services for disabled residents. The deal was, homeless and disabled could get off the streets and into affordable housing, but they had to live in crime ridden contexts. Many good Seattle folk were concerned this just wasn’t good enough. As a result, there were frequent news articles written about the project.

“Well, I guess you know I will be holding you in the light,” said my newer friend who was so genuine I knew he was not an informer. He could be a life-long friend, I thought as I fingered the phone-number-paper-scrap in my pocket. I had obtained the number from a female just before the service.

But alas, I was ready to lay down my life to rectify injustice of what I’d seen at the Norton. I was directly responsible for three recent news articles articulating the neglect. Maybe it was just a matter of time until they figured out it was me.

Now, here in this adjacent coffee house, it was as if I had just walked into a sting operation.

Having just gotten barked at by this addict with bulging veins when I had tried to use the bathroom he was occupying. I sat waiting with urgent need to pee, watching this father with his son.

The father was hefty and awkward, and his son was this with-it Seattle youth who looked adoring.

In fact, this father looked like a hometown acquaintance. I had just last night heard that this acquaintance had been found with a bullet in his head in his shed. Just last night, my oldest friend had told me the story when I contacted him. I had contacted him in hopes for his assessment of the level of danger I was experiencing.

“Just don’t let that happen to you!” my friend had said concerned.

Now it occurred to me that my oldest friend and I were basically saying this “suicide” sounded like a mob hit. Was it possible that the FBI sent a look-alike because they were tapping my phone?

Now this familiar looking man goes to the bathroom and pounds on the door. I see the addict emerge and fire an insult at him just as he had done to me. But the man, unlike me, was waiting for him. He barked right back. It was as if he were punching the addict in the gut. Still, no one was going to get in that bathroom! But the father walked away and was respected by his son.

Was this scene really staged by an arm of the government that trying to get me to change my Quaker values? I had a sense that I was meant to see this interaction! Was I being brainwashed into taking people out?

I did want justice; but violently taking people out and putting the wrong people in jail was more the work of the local law enforcement! It wasn’t what I was about.

My mind skipped. The night before I’d asked my mother if I had ever been sexually abused. I’d brought up some memories and had suspicions with a menacing tone.

I was believing that I was traumatized, not a mental case like my therapist had been telling me for the past seven years.

It was true, I once suffered from an eating disorder that almost killed me. It was also true I was extremely shy and had some disassociated memories. But still I had nothing direct to prove I was experiencing PTSD. Instead I carried the diagnosis of a schizotypal personality disorder. That meant when people picked on me I was paranoid.

When I finally left the coffee house, I drove north past my apartment, to the discount theater where I caught the afternoon showing of Me, Myself, and Irene. As the movie progressed, I remained astonished by the coincidences. Jim Carey had to suppress a secreted abuse. He had to raise his wife’s kids alone. Everyone around him mocked him. It was like that for me too. That was what my life had been like.

Now, as I watched the film for the second day in a row, I wondered about the role of the FBI following him. It was ironic that they were using his psychiatric profile to pin blame. Meanwhile to protect Rene Zellweger from the abusive ex-boyfriend who is controlling the FBI, Jim Carey has got to go through a caper to cure himself. I sensed that this is what I was getting ready to go through!

I knew there was alarming abuse going on at the Norton. There were the secret files the management company held. There was a world of undercover informers and intelligence. These were the real muddy waters that infect those corridors of housing for the disabled, the backwards, the board and care homes, the jails, the prisons, and the ghettos. I wasn’t accepting those: “now, that sounds like your paranoia!”— words my therapist frequently sang at me.

Since I stopped taking my medication a few weeks ago, I was starting to better see through the limited lies of the mental health establishment.

Back when this movie first came out, I choose not to see it because of the criticisms of the AMA! Now, I was meant to see this film when I did. I concentrated hard on the details guided by a higher power. More and more, the film seemed to be about me!

Earlier that week while at the Norton, a resident had given me a great compliment about my work. “But I just want to say,” he added, “one time we had a worker like you who came and fought for the clients, but then he lost his job. He had to come down here and live as a resident himself. I just don’t want that to happen to you!”

As the movie finished, I felt at risk. I felt compelled to figure out the truth!

Later that night I made more phone calls in the bunker of my room just as I had done the night previous. Eventually, I called by best college friend who was fifteen years older than me and whose first career was that of a drug dealer. I called him believing that I was selected for this high-profile job by people who knew I would take it. People who knew me so well they knew what I’d do before I did it.

Indeed, it had been a strange shock to all involved that the power-brokers had selected the contract proposed by our agency. Now that I was getting wise, maybe I was becoming a threat.

My best friend always had delusions of grandeur that were associated with his bipolar disorder. He had this thing when he got manic. He sounded like he was connected to the mafia. He had shown me so many great mobster movies and was always seemed to use them to teach.

But now he replies in blunt tone “If you ever betray me, Tim, you need to know that I do have the power to harm you and I will use it if I have to.”

My mind sped through all the coincidences that had caused me to form this strong connection with my college friend. Was it true that it was all as it seemed? He often called himself a dry drunk. Maybe that meant he was still in the mafia.

Within twenty minutes I packed my car with the fundamentals and I took off. I would not live under this threat the rest of my life!

When I left Seattle that evening, I stayed in this state of emergency for two years. It wouldn’t be until many months after I returned to taking medication that the crisis dissipated.

On my way to Canada, I got stopped by police separated from my car. I was tracked for three days until I was remanded into a three-month psychiatric hospitalization in Montana State Hospital.

Once discharged, I got off the streets by getting a job but ran out of my discharge supply of medication. When I was told not to return to my job, I still had to pay rent! Despite intensive local efforts, the only job I could get was an arranged job at an Italian Delicatessen. To get the job, I had to move to the bay area.

To this day I still believe the job involved a mob connection. I know this sounds unlikely to many. It’s true that half of my evidence was faulty. But still a lot of it turns out to add up.

I also think I was correct about trauma and the mental health system during those tense days I was going through spiritual emergence almost eighteen years ago. I still work in the mental health system amidst great trauma and exploitation. I cannot maintain living in the murky waters of this modern-day fiasco we call the mental health system without using the medication I was started on twenty-five years ago.

I now pay mortgage on my own house, but still have no desire to do what it takes to be included in the false sense of community support I had back in Seattle. I wash my hands in the muddy waters of the mental health system.

It may be true I work hard; but I make money while my brothers and sisters remain warehoused and in dire circumstances. I sometimes think my ability to see all the angles and oppression is not really a disability. But I take my medication despite all the side effects to tolerate the abuse I see.